Paper-To-Parts FFF Printing Capabilities
Maximum Print Volume
The Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) printer that we use has a maximum print volume of 10.5 x 9.9 x 9.7 inches. Sometimes, depending on the geometry of the specific parts being printed, may require that some of available space be used for support structure. Overhanging structure that requires the use of “scaffolding” supports is one example of this. Another would be tall, skinny parts that require a brim be applied at the base of the print bed, to enhance part stability and print bed adhesion. If your part is large enough that it approaches any one of these limits, we will evaluate the geometry, and let you know if your part will work as designed, or if it would need adjustments.
In general, there are 3 standard materials that are used with FFF printers:
PLA (Polylactic Acid)
One of the most commonly used materials in FFF printing. It has minimal warping and shrinking compared to other materials. Produces good, sharp detail on features and hard angles. PLA is slightly stiffer than HIPS and ABS, but also means that it is relatively more brittle. Cheaper than ABS, and same cost as HIPS.
HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene)
Has similar material properties to ABS, but is cheaper. It is less prone to warping than ABS, and has good strength. HIPS can be easily sanded smooth. Has more flexibility than PLA, and is less brittle.
ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)
A very popular material because it exhibits good strength and durability. ABS can be easily sanded smooth. Has more flexibility than PLA, and is less brittle. More expensive than both PLA and HIPS.
Currently, we are offering FFF parts printed with PLA material only. We will be offering the HIPS and ABS materials soon, but we are still in the process of running test prints with these materials. We have been printing small to medium sized parts with good success, and are moving to larger sizes. We don’t want to offer these materials to full capability until we have completed testing of the larger models.
There are several specialty materials that are currently available from our material supplier, but we are not currently offering them simply because we have not had a chance to conduct testing. However, we will be performing tests on these materials in the near future, and if we are satisfied that they can be used to produce quality parts, we will add them to our materials list.
Please click on the link below to see a list of the potential Specialty Materials.
Potential Specialty FFF Printer Materials
Please click on the link below to see a list of the available FFF material colors.
Printed Part Textures
Parts can be printed using 3 different resolution settings. Each produces a different surface texture, and each has an effect on overall part cost.
Parts printed in the shortest amount of time. Uses largest individual layer thickness, and produces the roughest surface texture. Small features loose some clarity. Lowers overall part cost.
If High or Low Resolution is not specified, then parts with be printed in Standard Resolution by default. Parts printed in the shortest amount of time. Individual layer thickness is closer in size to that used in High Resolution prints than that used in Low Definition prints. As such, the resulting surface texture and clarity of features more closely resemble those produced by using High Resolution.
Parts printed in the longest amount of time. Uses smallest individual layer thickness, and produces the smoothest surface texture. Small features produced with best clarity. Increases overall part cost.
Printed Part Fill Options
With the FFF printing process, you can save money on your parts by specifying that the interior of the parts be printed using specific wall thicknesses and cavity fill density. What does this mean? In many cases, you will want your part to be printed with the entire volume to be solid plastic. However, if you decide that the way you intend to use your finished parts don’t require solid plastic, you can save money by having portions of the interior of the part remain hollow. The following images illustrate this:
You specify the size of wall thickness you want, and the percentage of lattice infill in the cavity, and your print will be fabricated that way. Any combination of wall thickness and cavity fill are possible. The lower the wall thickness and percentage of cavity fill, the less material is printed, and the more money you save on your parts.